All Posts Tagged: National Stress Month

Handle Ways to Handle Your Stress

It’s important to give yourself the permission to relax every once in awhile, whether that quiet moment is spent with a steaming cup of tea or an indulgent massage. Stress and exhaustion can cause long-term health issues if allowed to remain severe for too long. We’d like to share a few tips for relaxation to help you take care of yourself.

PUT ON THE KETTLE.

We’ll start with a cup of hot tea. Some studies suggest that an amino acid found in tea, L-theanine, causes the brain to relax. While this statement is still mildly debated, the fact remains that tea is the second-most-consumed liquid in the world, next to water. Many people attribute the simple ritual of sipping a cup of tea to a calming, familiar feeling that is brought on simply by the action of drinking it.

Other herbal teas, such as chamomile and lavender, are said to have calming properties as well. When dealing with herbs, it’s important to check with your doctor if you have any conditions or take medicines that react badly with the herb blends… but if you’re in the clear, what’s to lose? Put on the kettle and see if those shoulders loosen up.

CREATE A COMFORTING ROUTINE.

If you find yourself regularly feeling stressed out, you might benefit from a calming routine. It can be something small-scale to help you calm down in a pinch, or a longer ritual to help you wind down before bed. Either way, it’s important to examine your needs and feelings to establish a routine that will be right for you. Do breathing exercises help? Do you enjoy reading? Is a long, hot bath a surefire way to ease your worries and turn down the thoughts in your head?

Routine provides something to look forward to and creates a consistent set of actions that you can depend on. You can always add a nice cup of tea to that ritual, of course!

EXERCISE

For some people, the act of movement allows the body to burn off energy and the mind to find focus. While more strenuous activities like running and weight-lifting provide a release for some, it’s often the case that a more gentle form of exercise allows a stressed-out individual to calm both their mind and body. Long walks, yoga class, and low-impact swimming are all ideal examples of using exercise to release stress.

JOURNALING

Stress often results from a buildup of responsibilities and negative emotions. Keeping a journal can provide a much-needed space into which you can release some of those fears and concerns. According to a 1986 study on expressive writing, students who wrote about traumatic and stressful events reported an almost immediate decrease in distress. Those who continued the practice over time reported an increase in the quality of their physical health as well.

Bottling up your feelings can lead to stress. Releasing those feelings can relieve that stress. A journal is a wonderful way to disclose your emotions and thoughts in a safe, controlled environment.

MAKE IT ABOUT YOU.

Whether you love tea or hate it… whether you’d rather run a mile than get a massage, the point of this post is to encourage relaxation that works for you. A mind that carries stress and tension for a prolonged period is also a body carrying that stress and tension. Finding techniques that help ease both physical and mental stress will allow you to focus on the things that you love.

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How to Combat Your Anxiety

In our last post, we detailed how important it is for people to get help with anxiety disorders, especially because they can negatively impact overall physical and mental health. However, it’s often difficult to know where to start. In our second post on anxiety, we will focus on how to combat anxiety and what to expect when seeking treatment.

How do I ask for help?

If you think you may be suffering from anxiety, you should share your concerns with your primary care physician. A physician can help determine if the symptoms are due to an anxiety disorder, a medical condition, or both. If your physician diagnoses an anxiety disorder, the next step is to see a mental health care professional. You and your doctor will then work as a team to develop the best treatment plan.

What are my treatment options?

Treatment for anxiety can involve medication, therapy, stress reduction, coping skills, family involvement, or a combination of these. A mental health care provider can determine what type of disorder or combination of disorders you have, and if any other conditions, such as grief, depression, substance abuse, or dementia are present.

If you have been treated before for an anxiety disorder, you should tell your provider about the previous treatment. Be sure to detail what medication was used, dosage, side effects, and whether the treatment was helpful. If you attended therapy sessions, you should describe the type, how many sessions, and whether it helped. Sometimes individuals need to try several different treatments or combinations of treatments before they find the one that works best for them. It is important to be patient and committed to treatment efforts until you find what is best for you.

Medication

Medication will not cure anxiety disorders, but it can keep them under control while you receive therapy. Medication must be prescribed by physicians, often psychiatrists or geriatric psychiatrists, who can also offer therapy or work as a team with psychologists, social workers, or counselors who provide therapy. The main medications used for anxiety disorders are antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and beta-blockers, which control some of the physical symptoms. Below are several points to remember when beginning these types of medications.

  • Learn about the effects and side effects. For example, ask when the medication should begin to help and in what way. Also ask about what negative effects you should look out for.
  • Tell your doctor about any other drugs (both prescription and over-the-counter), herbal supplements, or alternative therapies you are taking.
  • Find out when and how the medication should be stopped. Some cannot be stopped abruptly and must be tapered down under a doctor’s supervision.
  • Some medications are only effective if taken regularly. Be sure to ask what you should do if you accidentally miss a dose.

Therapy

Therapy involves talking with a trained mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or counselor, to discover what caused the anxiety disorder and how to deal with its symptoms. Therapists can help people change the thinking patterns that contribute to their fears and the ways they react to anxiety-provoking situations. A therapist can also teach new coping and relaxation skills and help resolve problems that cause anxiety.

What else can I do to help relieve my anxiety?

  1. Acknowledge worries and address any fears that can be handled. For example, if an individual is worried about finances, a visit to a financial planner may be helpful.
  2. Talk with family, a friend, or spiritual leader about your worries. Sometimes voicing them can be a big relief.
  3. Adopt stress management techniques, meditation, prayer, and deep breathing. Because anxiety is so tied to a physical response, relaxation techniques can be very helpful.
  4. Exercise regularly and when stress builds up. Even a short walk can help alleviate tension and anxiety symptoms.
  5. Avoid things that can aggravate the symptoms of anxiety disorders:
    • Caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, chocolate)
    • Nicotine (smoking)
    • Over-the-counter cold medications
    • Illegal drugs
    • Certain herbal supplements
    • Alcohol
  6. Limit news of current events. It is important to stay current, but too much negative news can contribute to anxiety.
  7. Allow time for treatment to work. Treatment is not a quick fix. It takes time, patience, and perseverance.
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